Victoria Gazi is a dynamic, accomplished yet humble 26-year-old entrepreneur who describes herself as an accountant by profession, a marketer at heart, and an entrepreneur by choice. She runs three businesses and was the second runner-up in the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Businesswoman of the Year award for Matabeleland South.
Victoria was also one of the 10 delegates who attended the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 conference in Gaborone in April. She also received the Best Woman in Manufacturing award under the ZNCC Women in Enterprise Conference and awards earlier this month.
Victoria is also actively involved in charitable causes such as paying tuition for two underprivileged children in her community. She is a regular speaker and fundraiser for Girl Talk Zimbabwe, an organization that endeavors to restore dignity to the girl child, and a volunteer for Pusheka Girl, a trust that helps the underprivileged by sourcing and distributing donations.
We decided to get in touch with this phenomenal woman and find out the inspiration behind her many ventures.
You have three businesses running concurrently. Why did you decide to start your own businesses?
The journey began when l was in school. I had a subject that required us to come up with a business proposal and actually run the business.
My business was selling t-shirts to the school, so anything they needed t-shirts for – camps, sporting events, etc. – l would supply them. The money l made was enough for me to buy my own very first tablet. That’s how l knew there was potential there.
My original plan was to become a chartered accountant, work, and then start my own business. But before all that, l realized that l could just start a business. So after l graduated, l came back and started off with a few failed attempts in the gas industry until, in 2019, l opened a franchise shop in Bellevue called Value Gas.
The second business came about after being inspired by my aunt in South Africa who is running a mineral water company called Aqua-Manzi.
Samson Bricks took off last year after my dad and l decided to go into the construction industry together. We realized that a lot of construction was taking place in the country. But my father later decided to build a guest house instead, leaving me to carry on with the business.
How different is your brick business now compared to when you started?
Just like with any other business, in the beginning, there are always a lot of hiccups. The first team was problematic because, in general, men find it difficult to be led by women. So there was a lot of undermining that went on until we [resolved] it. Another thing was finances were strained in the beginning, but now operations are running a bit more smoothly. The current team is working together well and now we have a second brickmaking machine, showing that the business has somehow found its footing.
What is the hardest part about being an entrepreneur?
The other day we were reflecting on how many companies won awards just like the one l won in June but are no longer in existence. So the fear of whether we will still be around in the next few years is always foremost on my mind. Knowing that there are families that depend on the companies for their upkeep is another fear l have. If, when the month ends, there will be enough for everyone’s salary. The support l get from my parents, partner, friends, and relatives keeps me going despite my fears.
What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
The flexible hours are the best part because l get to pick which hours l want to work and that is everything.
What words of encouragement would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
The key is to start, just start. It’s okay to fail but rise and start all over. My key statement is, ‘All that is reality was once a dream,’ so just start is my encouragement.
Where do you see your businesses in 5-10 years?
We are going to be one of the names people mention when they think of building materials. Our aim is to establish a retail with all our products being sold there. We are going to be visible and relevant.